Behind the anonymous voice vote on civil unions

Politics / After more than a year of debate over the civil unions measure, House Bill 444, state representatives last Friday approved–via anonymous voice vote–a motion by House Speaker Calvin Say to indefinitely postpone action on the bill.

The decision was in stark contrast to the House vote last session, when 33 of 51 representatives voted in support of the original bill, which would have extended to same-sex couples some of the legal protections offered to married couples.

This year–an election year–the speaker said that, by his count, support for House Bill 444 had dwindled below the supermajority level that would allow it to override a possible veto by the governor (the Senate passed the bill with a supermajority vote of 18-7 during the first week of the session).

After the House voice vote, there were widespread calls for more transparency from elected officials over exactly how the bill was effectively killed this session. The Weekly asked each representative: How did you vote in the voice vote on Speaker Say’s motion to postpone House Bill 444? Here’s what they told us.

We asked He/She said Voice vote
* = Abstained
— = No Response
Rep. Henry Aquino (D) “For the motion to postpone indefinitely, I voted aye.” Aye
Rep. Karen Awana (D) Did not respond
Rep. Della Au Belatti (D) “I voted no, so that means I voted not to postpone it.” Nay
Rep. Lyla Berg (D) “My voice said no… I really would have appreciated a little more time for this bill to run its course and more people to have been part of the process.” Nay
Rep. Joe Bertram (D) “There was such a strong push that we present a united front but I couldn’t. I said no, and I felt nonplussed that we couldn’t get a roll call.” Nay
Rep. Tom Brower (D) “My preference is no and I was thinking no, but I didn’t say anything.” *
Rep. Rida Cabanilla (D) “No comment from me.”
Rep. Mele Carroll (D) Did not respond
Rep. Jerry Chang (D) Declined to comment. Vote expressed via aide. Aye
Rep. Corinne Ching (R) “Yes, I did indeed vote to postpone it.” Aye
Rep. Pono Chong (D) “I actually seconded the motion.” Aye
Rep. Isaac Choy (D) “Aye” Aye
Rep. Denny Coffman (D) “I was going to support the motion with reservations but I voted no… The speaker said he wanted to have a supermajority but I, personally, was struggling with whether that was a real issue.” Nay
Rep. Cindy Evans (D) “I voted to postpone.” Aye
Rep. Lynn Finnegan (R) “I voted yes. I would’ve preferred a roll call vote to be transparent to the public.” Aye
Rep. Faye Hanohano (D) “I went no… They didn’t give us time for somebody to say,‘take a roll call vote.’ That was kind of uncool and made everybody a little confused.” Nay
Rep. Sharon Har (D) Declined to comment. Vote expressed via aide. Aye
Rep. Robert Herkes (D) “I wasn’t there… I woud have supported the speaker’s motion, though.” Excused
Rep. Ken Ito (D) “Aye, and I would have voted down the bill, too.” Aye
Rep. Jon Karamatsu (D) “I was just dead silent. I want to be able to win this issue but I need to maintain the relationships with the majority.” *
Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran (D) “I voted with the majority.” Aye
Rep. Chris Lee (D) “I actually voted twice. I yelled no the first time when everybody was supposed to yell yes. And then I yelled no again at the right time.” Nay
Rep. Marilyn Lee (D) Did not respond
Rep. Sylvia Luke (D) Did not respond
Rep. Michael Magaoay (D) Declined to comment. Vote expressed via aide. Aye
Rep. Joey Manahan (D) “I said aye.” Aye
Rep. Barbara Marumoto (R) Did not respond
Rep. Angus McKelvey (D) Did not respond
Rep. John Mizuno (D) “I voted in support of the motion.” Aye
Rep. Hermina Morita (D) “I voiced my ‘no’ to the motion… To say that I am disappointed and ashamed on what happened on the House floor would be an understatement.” Nay
Rep. Mark Nakashima (D) Responded without revealing vote
Rep. Scott Nishimoto (D) Did not respond
Rep. Blake Oshiro (D) “I voted no.” Nay
Rep. Marcus Oshiro (D) “I voted yes, well, aye.” Aye
Rep. Kymberly Pine (R) “I voted in favor of his motion. My constituents are overwhelmingly against the measure.” Aye
Rep. Karl Rhoads (D) “I voted no. I said [loudly] ‘nooo!’” Nay
Rep. Roland Sagum (D) “People in the gallery wanted a roll call but it went down as a voice vote. It wasn’t because we are trying to hide anything… I don’t want to tell you, though. I’m trying to honor the process.”
Rep. Scott Saiki (D) “I voted no.” Nay
Speaker Calvin Say (D) Motioned to “postpone indefinitely” House Bill 444. Did not respond.
Rep. Maile Shimabukuro (D) “When you do a voice vote, you can sit there and not say anything. The whole point of it is there has already been a decision by the leadership.” *
Rep. Joseph Souki (D) “I chose at that time not to take any major action. So I was neutral.” *
Rep. Mark Takai (D) “I supported that motion. I didn’t say anything. So, by default, I supported it.” *
Rep. Roy Takumi (D) “I actually had a ventriloquist who spoke for me [laughs]. I voted no.” Nay
Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R) “I voted no.” Nay
Rep. James Tokioka (D) “I voted yes.” Aye
Rep. Clift Tsuji (D) Declined to comment
Rep. Glenn Wakai (D) Declined to comment
Rep. Gene Ward (R) “I agreed with the speaker. Here’s to transparency!” Aye
Rep. Jessica Wooley (D) “I voted no.” Nay
Rep. Ryan Yamane (D) Did not respond
Rep. Kyle Yamashita (D) Did not respond